One man’s truth is another’s propaganda

    It is one
    thing to tell the truth even when it damages your friends. It’s another
    to tell untruths in order not to offend your enemies. It’s one thing to
    give the devil his due. It’s another to do the devil’s public relations.

    How else to explain a dispatch from the Associated Press referring to
    Osama bin Laden as “an exiled Saudi dissident”? Such spin may not be
    inaccurate, but it’s like calling Jeffery Dahmer an “eccentric
    gourmet.” It rather misses the point, don’t you think?

    Similarly, a recent report on National Public Radio discussed how
    dangerous Iraq is for journalists. The blame was placed on “the nature
    of this war” and “the security situation.” No criticism of militant
    cutthroats and car bombers was voiced.

    And, of course, Reuters,
    the British wire service, has decreed, “One man’s terrorist is another
    man’s freedom fighter.” In Reuters’ corporate eyes, even the attacks on
    the World Trade Center cannot be called terrorism.

    relativism is common in academia as well as in journalism. The other
    day, on a BBC radio show, I debated Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi, a
    professor from Rutgers University. His argument: The way to settle the
    conflict with Iran is for the United States to re-open full diplomatic
    relations. If President Bush would only reach out to the regime in
    Tehran, he’d find there have been misunderstandings, that both sides
    have made mistakes, and that there is ample room for compromise.

    In response, I began to read verbatim quotes form Iranian President
    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other Iranian rulers about their lethal
    intentions toward the United States, their genocidal plans for Israel,
    their hostility toward “Anglo-Saxon civilization.”

    Amirahmadi objected that scholars and journalists must not take such
    remarks seriously. He suggested it was either unsophisticated or unfair
    of me (maybe both) to repeat such statements on the air.

    tempting to dismiss such attitudes as simply the foolishness of the
    chattering classes. But the West is in the middle of a world war of
    ideas _ a conflict as consequential as the war of arms. For
    intellectuals to retreat to a Switzerland-of-the-mind will have
    consequences. And their declaration of neutrality comes at a time when
    the enemies of the Free World are bringing out the big guns.

    Take, for example, al-Manar, an elaborate Lebanon-based satellite
    television station owned by Hezbollah (the terrorist organization
    second only to al Qaeda in number of Americans it has killed) and
    financed by the militant Iranian Islamists. Every day, al-Manar
    blatantly incites terrorism against Americans, Israelis and Jews.

    As one al-Manar official was candid enough to tell terrorism expert Avi
    Jorisch, the station attempts to “help people on the way to commit what
    you in the West call a suicide mission.”

    A concerted effort by
    the Coalition Against Terrorist Media (CATM), an association of Muslim,
    Christian, Jewish and secular groups, working in partnership with the
    United States and European governments, has succeeded in removing
    al-Manar from eight satellite providers _ ending its broadcasts to
    North America, South America, Asia, Australia and parts of Africa, all
    regions where Hezbollah terror cells are known to have a strong

    But two satellite providers continue to broadcast
    al-Manar to Europe and throughout much of the Middle East and North
    Africa. One is owned by the Egyptian government, the recipient of
    billions of dollars in U.S. aid. A second satellite company has as its
    largest shareholder the Saudi government, which spends millions of
    dollars to run television ads in the U.S. proclaiming itself America’s
    “ally against terrorism.”

    Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group
    backed by Iran, also is launching its own television station, one that
    is meant eventually to reach target audiences around the globe. And
    Qatar-based al-Jazeera _ moderate by contrast to al-Manar, but always
    the first to broadcast al-Qaeda’s messages _ is now employing such
    media stars as Dave Marash, until recently a regular on ABC News’
    “Nightline,” and the veteran British journalist, David Frost. Marash
    and Frost are lending their credibility to the cause of militant
    Islamism, whether they admit that or not, whether they understand that
    or not.

    “If you hamper the war effort of one side, you
    automatically help out that of the other. Nor is there any real way of
    remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, ‘he that
    is not with me is against me.’ “

    It wasn’t George Bush who said that. It was George Orwell.

    (Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism.)